Life Travel Australian travellers desert European terror hotspots

Australian travellers desert European terror hotspots

Switzerland is experiencing a surge in Australian travellers as they shun more popular European destinations amid terror threats. Photo: Getty
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Australians are rethinking their plans following deadly terror attacks in high-profile destinations such as Barcelona, Paris, London, Nice and Berlin.

Forty-five per cent of Australian jetsetters fear terrorist attacks on flights, according to a new survey, and they’re not just worried about attacks on planes.

The fact that people from 34 different countries were either killed or injured in the most recent Islamist terror attack on La Rambla in Barcelona is a reminder that tourists at iconic sites and in sprawling crowds are potentially even more vulnerable than locals.

In France alone since 2015, more than 200 people have been killed and hundreds injured in terrorist attacks attributed to Islamic State (ISIS).

While the number of Aussies jetting off overseas globally rose by 4 per cent last year and there was a 3 per cent increase in those going to Europe, travellers are choosing what they consider less dangerous destinations.

The number of Australians visiting France dropped by 7 per cent in the twelve months to July 2017.

Visitors to Germany dropped 5 per cent and there was a 1 per cent dip in visitors to the UK.

At the same time, the number of Australians heading to Switzerland increased by 27 per cent, while rises of 17 per cent were recorded in Australian visitors to both Sweden and Greece.

Before the attack in Barcelona, visitor numbers to Spain to July 2017 were up by 9 per cent.

Following the devastating 2004 terrorist train bombings in Madrid, where 192 people were killed, Spain had avoided major attacks until this month’s La Rambla rampage.

The nationwide survey of 2005 Australians, commissioned by comparison site, also revealed that in spite of increased aviation security, more than half of the women (53 per cent) and almost a third of men (31 per cent) surveyed said their fear of flying stems from terrorism.

“We’re seeing evidence that travellers are avoiding destinations where they see a pattern of terrorism happening,” Bessie Hassan, insurance expert at, told The New Daily. 

Is it safe to go?

The Australian government website SmartTraveller updates advice regularly.

For France, the advice is to “exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorist attack. Be vigilant… We continue to receive information that terrorists may be planning further attacks in France. An attack could occur at any time.”

For Spain the site warns of “heightened security measures” in public places and tourist sites, and for Germany it notes “a high threat of terrorist attack”.

Travellers should register with SmartTraveller and also compare travel insurance policies before they go in case of a terrorist incident.

As Ms Hassan says, “Not all policies cover cancellations as a result of terrorist attacks and some may provide only limited cover, so make sure to read the fine print.”

Timeline of terror in Europe

August 17, 2017
La Rambla,

13 killed and 130 injured when a van rammed into pedestrians on the famed La Rambla boulevard.

August 17, 2017
Cambrils, Spain

One dead, 6 injured when a car rammed into a crowd then terrorists jump out armed with knives. Five terrorists were shot at the time.

June 3, 2017
London Bridge & Borough Market, London, UK

Eight killed and dozens injured. Three knifemen were shot dead. Van drove into people at Borough Market, Central London. Attackers with knives strapped to their hands randomly stab people.

Thousands mourned the victims of the La Rambla terror attack in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Getty

22 May 2017
Ariana Grande concert, Manchester, UK

22 killed and dozens injured after bomber exploded suicide vest.

20 April 2017
Champs Elysees, Paris, France

One policeman shot and two injured by terrorist with automatic gun. The terrorist shot and killed.

24 March 2017
Near Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. UK

Four dead, 40 injured when attacker ran down pedestrians, then stabbed policeman to death. The gunman was killed.

3 February 2017
Louvre, Paris, France

A machete-wielding terrorist attacks policeman near the Louvre. The terrorist was killed.

19 December 2016
Christmas Market, Berlin

12 killed and more than 60 injured when a terrorist drove a truck into a Christmas market.

16 July, 2016

Nice, France

84 killed and more than 100 injured in Bastille Day massacre when a lorry ploughed into the holiday crowd.

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